Kenneth R. Harris

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Kenneth Rhyne Harris, Sr. (16 May 1935 – 17 January 2009)[1] was the 48th Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina serving from 1977 to 1979.[1][2]

Harris was born in Harmony, North Carolina on 16 May 1935[1] to Roy Lee and Beulah Barker Harris.[1] He attended Iredell County Schools and received his degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[1]

Harris was the first Republican Mayor of Charlotte in the twentieth century having been elected in 1977 in what was then considered a major upset.[2] During his term he championed the development of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport including passing a bond issue which resulted in the construction of a new terminal which was instrumental in the growth of the city in the following decades.[1]

After leaving the office of mayor, Harris was elected to the North Carolina State Senate for two terms. He was appointed in 1988 to the North Carolina State Board of Education by Governor Jim Martin and later served as the chairman of that board under Governor Jim Hunt.[1]

Harris worked professionally in the insurance industry and was a member of the North Carolina Air National Guard for twenty years rising to the rank of major.[1]

Harris’s son, Ken Harris, Jr. ran unsuccessfully for the Charlotte City Council in 2013.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Kenneth Rhyne Harris Obituary". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina. 19 January 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Morrill, Jim (18 January 2009). "Former Charlotte Mayor Dies". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina. 
  3. ^ Harrison, Steve (6 November 2013). "Charlotte City Council Democrats sweep at-large races Party will continue to hold 9-2 edge on City Council when Cannon takes office". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina: McClatchy: 1A.